Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 118

Monday, February 6 2006

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 20:51:24 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Benching Gomel frequently (after flying)

On Tue, Jan 31, 2006 at 12:59:05PM +0200, Marty Bluke wrote:
: The Gemara in Berachos (54a) states that 4 people are chayav to bench
: gomel (someone who went in the desert, sea, was sick, or in jail). The
: Talmidei Rabbeniu Yona (43a in the pages of the Rif) bring down the
: opinion of the French Chachamim that say that one should recite Hagomel
: only when one has traveled on a dangerous road...

Is that because of sakanah, or because of the definition of "midbar",
which you rendered "desert", above?

I mentioned this gemara in relation to tefilas haderekh, but this is more
directly related. My assumption there was that tefillas haderekh is a
baqashah defined by the crossing the desert or sea of the rules for gomel.

But the gemara is based on a pereq Tehillim, which in turn is describing
yetzi'as mitzrayim. I would therefore conclude that the essence of
qorban Todah or bentching gomel is that one relived an aspect of yetzi'as
mitzrayim. Not only being saved from near disaster.

: Based on this RYBS held that one does not say hagomel on plane travel (if
: one does not perceive it to be dangerous) as it is today the safest form
: of travel (much safer then driving) and is the equivalent of intercity
: travel of the French Jews. The Piskei Teshuvos quotes that the Brisker
: Rav did not bench gomel after flying either.

(BTW, air flight isn't really safer than driving, when you compare
casualty per man-minute of travel. Per man-mile, yes.)

But obviously this and your citation of IM OC 2:50 show that neither
the Briskers nor RMF saw things the way I suggested above. Both
speak only in terms of size of risk, not similarity to YM even when
risk is smaller.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             "As long as the candle is still burning,
micha@aishdas.org        it is still possible to accomplish and to
http://www.aishdas.org   mend."
Fax: (270) 514-1507          - Unknown shoemaker to R' Yisrael Salanter

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 20:40:02 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Maris Ayin of the Ben Pakuah and Heqer

On Thu, Feb 02, 2006 at 12:37:13AM +1100, meir rabi wrote:
: I do not follow your meaning. You say that MA is "the prohibition against
: giving people reason to think one is sinning and that I am describing
: something different - cheshash, that people may confuse the two animals".
: But the Taz and Aruch HaShulchan here indicate that MA refers to others
: being misled to consume meat without Shechitah....

Perhaps if we clean up my language, we'll clear up the confusion.

The usual use of mar'is ayin is to refer to the prohibition against
giving people reason to think one is sinning. "... Vehiyisem neqiyyim
meiHashem umiYyisra'el" (Bamidbar 32:22).

The problem with BP is cheshah -- that people will accidentally
or through habit violate the din.

The question with almond milk is vehiyisem neqiyim. Different thing. Don't
let the words "mar'is ayin" occlude that.

One difference. With cheshash, we assume people will believe the person
is acting kehalakhah, misunderstanding what the person is doing, and
therefore learn to do something keneged halakhah.

With vehiyisem neqiyim, the assumption is that we know the halakhah and
what he's doing, and therefore infer the person isn't "naqi".

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             "Fortunate indeed, is the man who takes
micha@aishdas.org        exactly the right measure of himself,  and
http://www.aishdas.org   holds a just balance between what he can
Fax: (270) 514-1507      acquire and what he can use." - Peter Latham

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 20:54:39 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
the sun = chessed

Like many things, the sun could be a blessing or a curse.
Without it, we could not live (unless HaShem created something else to
replace it).
Too much sun can cause sunstroke and death.

Water could be a blessing or a curse.
It is the element that gives life to everything.
Too much water causes terrible disasters.
If fishes are taken out, they die.
If humans are put under water, they die.
Which reminds me of the book: "The Joys of Fishing, From the Perspective
of the Fish."

So you could say that most things have both the elements of chessed as
well as k'lala.

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 21:02:45 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Enzymes in Honey & Cheese

On Thu, Feb 02, 2006 at 01:23:01AM +1100, meir rabi wrote:
: There is a Machlokes in the Gemora and Poskim regarding the reason
: why honey is Kosher. Either a Sevoro: the honey is not PRODUCED by the
: bee but is only MODIFIED by the bee and so is not a Davar HaYotze Min
: HaTomeh; or alternatively a Passuk (Vayikra 11:21) "But this you may
: eat of the flying Sherets", which excludes the Sheratzim we may NOT
: eat but includes what these non-kosher Sheratzim are Mashrits - produce
: [as long as it is not a baby like its mother. Rashi Bechoros 7b].

I'm not sure milk is further from grass than honey is from nectar. For
example, you could taste the difference in the milk if the cow ate only
grass, only hay, or only corn.

This is why I only mentioned the gezeiras hakasuv opinion. I don't know
what to do with the other one.

In any case, without the gezeiras hakasuv, I still don't see how the
enzymes of a bug avoids the davar hama'amid problem.

Gut Voch!

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 21:01:32 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Eternal Torment?

On Tue, Jan 31, 2006 at 07:33:35PM -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
: Gehinnom. Gehinnom is not Hell, it's Purgatory. AFAIK, Judaism doesn't
: believe in Hell. The purpose of Gehinnom is to be cleansed of ones
: averot, so that one can enter Olam Haba...

Language check...

There is a machloqes about what "olam haba" means. According to the
Ramban, it refers to the post-techiyas hameisim world. You seem to be
using the Rambam's usage, that it refers to the "place" neshamos go
immediately after death. So, I'm running with that.

Olam haba therefore is where one goes either way -- sechar or onesh.

Would you say that
    The purpose of gehenom is to be cleansed / repaired from one's
    aveiros so that one can enter olam haba
    Gehenom is the experience of olam haba one has until one is cleansed /
    repaired sufficiently that one could experience gan eden?

I advocate the latter.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             A pious Jew is not one who worries about his fellow
micha@aishdas.org        man's soul and his own stomach; a pious Jew worries
http://www.aishdas.org   about his own soul and his fellow man's stomach.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rabbi Israel Salanter

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 11:34:17 EST
From: MSDratch@aol.com
Rape of Dina

As for a developing ethic that exceeds what the Torah commanded at Sinai
based upon devloping moral sensitivities, see, for example, the words of
Rav Kook that follow. He argues that the Torah, at times, "speaks against
the evil inclination" and allows things that ultimately will be forbidden.

(When time permits I'll try to respond to the other objections.
Sorry for the delay)

Mark Dratch

"A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace" By HaRav Avraham
Yitzchak Kuk <http://www.orot.com/issues.html> citing
    When humanity reaches its goal of complete happiness and spiritual
    liberation, when it attains that lofty peak of perfection that
    is the pure knowledge of God and the full manifestation of the
    essential holiness of life, then the age of "motivation by virtue
    of enlightenment" will have arrived. This is like a structure
    built on the foundation of "motivation by virtue of the law,"
    which of necessity must precede [that of "motivation by virtue
    of enlightenment"] for all humanity. Then human beings will
    recognize their companions in Creation: all the animals. And they
    will understand how it is fitting from the standpoint of the purest
    ethical standard not to resort to moral concessions, to compromise
    the Divine attribute of justice with that of mercy[1] [by permitting
    mankind's exploitation of animals]; for they will no longer need
    extenuating concessions, as in those matters of which the Talmud
    states: "The Torah speaks only of the evil inclination" (Kiddushin
    31b).[See Sefer HaIkkarim 3:15.] Rather they will walk the path of
    absolute good. As the prophet declares: "I will make a covenant for
    them with the animals of the field, the birds of the air, and the
    creeping things of the ground; I also will banish the bow and sword,
    and war from the land [and I will cause them to rest in safety. I
    will betroth you to Me forever; and I will betroth you to Me with
    righteousness, with justice, with kindness, and with compassion;
    and I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you will know God]"
    (Hosea 2:20).

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 20:43:40 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager works on presuming a lack of emunah. One doesn't employ
game theory between religions to determine which choice had the best
expected payout if one truly believed that there was no unkown.

Acting like one believes due to a Pascal's Wager argument will not lead
to relying on the ikkarim as fact. It would at most argue for orthopraxy,
following halakhah without emunah. (Although emunah itself is a chiyuv.)

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             Despair is the worst of ailments. No worries
micha@aishdas.org        are justified except: "Why am I so worried?"
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 21:26:54 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Wife's kavod for husband

The gemara in kiddushin 31a explains that if a child is asked by both
his mother and father for something at the same time that he does the
father's because both the mother and child are chayav in the father's
kavod. I have not found the mother's chiyuv in kavod for the father
brought down anyplace - she does have to do certain services (see even
haezer 80) but as far as I can tell these are limited and perhaps to
keep her from being indolent? I assume this is taught in chatan/kallah
classes? Any help would be appreciated.

Joel Rich

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 12:19:20 -0500
From: Shmuel Weidberg <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Rabban Gamliel's tube

In Eiruvin daf mem gimmel omud beis it describes a tube that Rabban
Gamliel had that could see exactly two thousand amos, and if something
was farther away it would be invisible. Can anyone describe the optics
of this tube and give an accurate assessment of its margin of error?
Was such an instrument known by the goyim as well? Is there a web site
that addresses these issues?


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 12:27:55 -0500
From: Shmuel Weidberg <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Preventing Chayos from digging up meisim

The gemoro in Eiruvin daf mem gimel amud beis describes how to keep wild
animals from digging up kevarim. Stick a pole in the ground and see how
far the shadow reaches at four hours in the day and make certain that
the matzeiva is designed so that it does not cast any shadow then.

Rashi explains that it is only at four hours into the day that animals
look for shade because that is when the sun starts to make it hot and
the shade is more comfortable. If the animal rests in the shade it will
smell the meis and come to dig it up. Once four hours have passed, the
animal has already found some other shady spot and won't care to rest
in the matzeiva's shade, or the spot will be heated up enough that it
won't be cooler in the shade than in the sun.

I'm wondering how the size of the shade varies during the year and why
it doesn't make a difference what time of the year the shade is measured.


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 12:57:51 -0500
From: Shmuel Weidberg <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Claims relativity applied inaccurately

At www.alexandermayer.com is described a claim that when applying
Einstein's theory of relativity the fact that observers at two clocks
at some distance from each other in a gravitational field will each
perceive the other as running more slowly than itself, is forgotten.

The author claims that even though the magnitude of the error is
relatively very small it is detectable and is the cause of many unresolved
problems with relativity. For example, it contributes to the inaccuracy
of GPS and the speed of the Pioneer spacecraft.

ASSUMING he's right, the error propagates all through science and causes
many statements that were made to seem outlandish and uninformed. The
error although small is greatly compounded by theories that assume the
absolute accuracy of the equations used to describe relativity, and are
highly sensitive to even small changes.

While I don't think this small inaccuracy in the way relativity is
applied is by itself enough to bring science in compliance with the Torah,
it and other inaccuracies like it will fundamentally change science in
the future and will drastically change philosophies which hang on the
absolute accuracy of certain scientific theories.

Kol Tuv,

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 07:10:36 +0200
From: Akiva Atwood <akiva.atwood@gmail.com>
Re: Claims relativity applied inaccurately

> At www.alexandermayer.com is described a claim that when applying

A much more important (IMO) link on that page is to an essay by astronomer
Father George Coyne S.J. -- Modern Cosmology and Life's Meaning.

"This brief essay reflects the ideas that evolved from 20th century
cosmology and implies that those who value their religious faith can also
fully embrace modern scientific ideas and progress. IT IS MOST SUITABLE



Most people act on their own account; they pursue personal ambitions
without seeking God's guidance and grace. By asserting the self they
will achieve nothing.

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 16:19:29 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Creation & allegory

Fri, 03 Feb 2006 R' Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il> posted:
> Can someone explain the apparent neglect of the Moreh Nevuchim 2:30 
> where the Rambam seems to assert that the sequence of the days of 
> creation are not necessarily relective of the historical order of 
> events. I don't recall seeing it cited in the various discussions of 
> Bereishis and historical reality.

Please quote the passage you are referring to. The only thing I can
find close to what you're saying is Rambam's position (along with many
other rishonim) based upon Chazal and pesukim. Namely, despite first
impressions, the various things were not actually each created on
the designated days, but were brought out into the open or placed in
their final positions on each day named, after having been all created
simultaneously at the first moment of the first day:

"You must know that the particle "ess" in the phrase "ess ha-shamayim
ve-ess ha-arez ("the heavens and the earth") signifies "together
with." Our Sages have explained the word in the same sense in many
instances. Accordingly, they assume that God created with the heavens
everything that the heavens contain, and with the earth everything
the earth includes. They further say that the simultaneous Creation of
the heavens and the earth is implied in the words, "I call unto them,
they stand up together" (Ps. xlviii.). Consequently, all things were
created together, but were separated from each other successively. Our
Sages illustrated this by the following simile: We sow various seeds at
the same time; some spring forth after one day, some after two, and some
after three days, although all have been sown at the same time.... In
Bereshit Rabba, our Sages, speaking of the light created on the first
day according to the Scriptural account, say as follows: These lights
[of the luminaries mentioned in the Creation of the fourth day] are the
same that were created on the first day, but were only fixed in their
places on the fourth day. The meaning [of the first verse] has thus been
clearly stated." (Friedlander translation)

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 18:40:47 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Creation & allegory

On February 3, 2006, Daniel Eidensohn wrote: 
> Can someone explain the apparent neglect of the Moreh Nevuchim 2:30
> where the Rambam seems to assert that the sequence of the days of
> creation are not necessarily relective of the historical order of
> events. I don't recall seeing it cited in the various discussions of
> Bereishis and historical reality.

I'm not sure how you see this in perek 30. On the contrary, the Rambam
seems to be relating to MB in very concrete terms. Are you perhaps
confusing the second part of the chapter, which discusses the episodes
related in Bereishis 2? Yes the Rambam does allegorize some of the
incidents related there, such as the nachash haKadmoni, however, he
clearly states that all of the episodes related in Bereishis 2, such
as the creation of Adam and Chava, the eitz hadaas, their sin etc. all
occurred on the sixth day of MB. And although all of events that Adam
and Chava experienced during the course of this episode would normally
take much longer than 12 hours, the laws of nature were not yet fixed,
states the Rambam.

Simcha Coffer

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 05 Feb 2006 20:36:25 -0600
From: Lisa Liel <lisa@starways.net>
Re: Creation & allegory

Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il> wrote:
>Can someone explain the apparent neglect of the Moreh Nevuchim 2:30 
>where the Rambam seems to assert that the sequence of the days of 
>creation are not necessarily relective of the historical order of 
>events. I don't recall seeing it cited in the various discussions of 
>Bereishis and historical reality.

The Rambam wrote the Moreh for Nevuchim. He says things in the Moreh that
contradict things in the Yad. It's important to consider the audience.
I wouldn't have any problem telling someone who was having a hard time
accepting the Torah that the sequence of the days of creation aren't
necessarily reflective of the historical order of events. You teach
people on a level they can handle.

I have a friend who grew up Conservative. When she started becoming frum,
she clung to Blu Greenberg's books like a life preserver. They allowed
her to get past the emotional dissonance caused by all the libels she'd
grown up hearing about Orthodoxy. Nowadays, she's Yeshivish/Torani,
leaning towards Hareidi. She doesn't, to the best of my knowledge,
give any credence whatsoever to the writings of Blu Greenberg. But at
that stage in her education, in her life, she needed Blu's words to get
past her resistance to the Torah.

The Rambam "seems to assert" in the Moreh that there won't be korbanot
l'atid la-vo. That's a direct contradiction to the laws of korbanot
in the Yad. It's not a contradiction. The Moreh contains apologetics.
You have to consider the intended audience.


Go to top.

Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 14:39:06 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Creation & allegory

On February 5, 2006, I wrote in response to RDE:
> Are you perhaps confusing the second part of the chapter, which discusses
> the episodes related in Bereishis 2? Yes the Rambam does allegorize some
> of the incidents related there, such as the nachash haKadmoni...

I did not mean that the entire episode was allegory. I meant that,
according to the apparent nusach of the Rambam in the Pirkey D'RE,
the nachash didn't do the talking; the talking was done by Samael, the
malach who was riding on top of the nachash. The Pirush haRadal mentions
that this was also the nusach of the Recanati. RJO pointed out to me that
there may be a discrepancy in nuschaos. I looked it up and in fact, the
nusach that we have seems to indicate that the nachash himself did the
talking and was *influenced* by Samael. Whichever the case, it does not
detract from my original point which is that all of the episodes described
in Bereishis 1 are entirely literal in all of their facets whereas the
Rambam may have understood *some* of the episodes in Bereishis 2 to be
representing deeper concepts and thus could have happened, in a physical
sense, slightly different than what the Torah seems to represent. I'd also
like to state that whatever did happen during the period of Bereishis 2,
happened entirely during the sixth day of MB exactly as Chazal say.

Simcha Coffer 

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 16:31:42 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Emunah, Perakim and the Mabul

Thu, 2 Feb 2006 "Aryeh Englander" <iarwain1@earthlink.net>, "playing
devil's advocate," suggested interpretations of pesukim to defend,
against my kushyos from the pesukim and logic, the idea that the Mabul
was localised. (I've since found that some of them were also asked by the
meforshim --Baruch Shekavanti.) My post that appeared above his, forms my
response to what I frankly think, WADR, are far-fetched interpretations
that do not fit the words in context ( -- which he himself admits:
"I myself am quite skeptical of translating the pesukim to mean a local
flood"). It also addresses his points about our mesora's attitude toward
mesorah and Midrashim.

Some other points were raised which I'd like to address:

RALE asks, "Where does it say that all birds were destroyed?"

Answer: Breishis, implicit in "kol bassar," and explicit in 7:21,
and 7:23.

b) if you go like the Maharatz Chiyos that Medrashim are simply to bring
out points...

I'm afraid RALE is misinformed. Maharatz Chayos teaches the standard
shittah that those Aggadic statements which in their literal meaning are
outlandish, against yesodei haTorah, or are too contradictory to peshat,
are not meant literally, or histrically. He elaborates by saying that
there were common numbers Chazal used to illustrate large sums, dimensions
or distances, which were not meant technically, and that when Chazal saw
common characteristics of biblical personalities they expressed the idea
in terms of So-an-so being "identical" with So-and-so (and i think this
can readily be applied to the "Palit" of Avraham's time being identical
to Og of Noach's time). But otherwise, as I posted once before, Maharatz
Chayos clearly maintains that the historical statements of Chazal are
meant historically, and he clearly considers them as historically true:

Mevo HaTalmud Chapter 18(translated by Jacob Schachter [Feldheim, NY
1960], under the title, The Student's Guide Through The Talmud):

    "[A]ggadoth which relate occurrences of the distant past were all in
    the possession of the Rabbis as traditions from our ancestors. To
    this category belong all aggadoth which tell us of happenings in
    former generations, even if they are not introduced with the phrases
    'It is a Masoreth, etc., or 'We have written it by tradition'. For
    they certainly did not fabricate these stories, rather they were
    transmitted to them as true stories...

    "[W]hatever concerns the acts of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Monarchs,
    Princes, and Priests, the Rabbis conveyed the facts to us as they
    had received them from their ancestors....

    "[T]he narratives which have come down from ancient times to Israel,
    with their miraculous events, were not pure inventions, God forbid,
    but were handed down to the Sages from early days, and that the
    latter recorded for us what their ancestors had told them of the
    actual things God had wrought for His people in ancient days."

based on the Moreh Nevuchim being currently debated elsewhere in this
discussion group, RGN (R' Gedalya Nadel ztz"l) was evidently of the
opinion that it is OK to say any such radical peshatim if there is
sufficient reason to do so.

As you say, this is debated, and I am on one side of that debate. If RGN
held as is reported by others in this forum, he was on the other side,
and I argue that he was wrong.

In summary, the only major problems I have seen so far are the problems
of how to understand "harim hagevohim" and "nivqe'u kol ma'yenos tehom
raba". And once again, I'd ask you not to dismiss the possibility of a
local flood before at least taking some time to play "devil's advocate"
and trying to find a teretz to these questions.

I leave it to those who have a handle on historiography, such as Rbtn
Liel, to primarily answer how actual reality does not contradict our

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >